“Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens…” Those might be familiar lyrics from Julie Andrew in the Sound of Music when she sang to the children of good things in the midst of a thunderstorm to calm their troubled spirits. Thinking good thoughts, however, is insufficient to change the outcome of a situation, but in the midst of life’s troubles it is a pleasing thing to rejoice in the little things the Lord brings the believer’s way.
That is the wisdom of Ecclesiastes:
…that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. (Eccl 3:13; c.f. 5:18–20, 7:14a, 8:15, 9:7–9, 11:9).
The believer is not guaranteed blessed ease in this life (though we easily fall prey to believing the prosperity lie); finding meaning in pleasure is a vain mist, wishful thinking, like chasing after the wind. But we can rejoice in God’s grace and goodness that He does send us in the midst of life’s troubles. We cannot control them, they are not guaranteed (we certainly don’t deserve them), but when they come, we can enjoy them as a gift from God.
The Christian life is often described as a pilgrimage. The journey is not the destination. Along the way to heaven, like a trip, there will be hills and wild animals and snowstorms, but there will also be panoramic views, still streams and sweet meadows. Total trust in the Lord enables us to be content in suffering and free to enjoy the blessings we do receive.
So the next time you hear a beautiful piece of music, behold a masterful sunset, have a cherished moment with your child, sip a good cup of tea, smell a fragrant flower, share in a good meal with friends, experience a warm summer’s rain or a beam of sunshine on your face, take a pleasant walk, hold your spouse’s hand, feel a quilts warm embrace, read a good book, take a trip down memory lane, enjoy the comfort of home in a snowstorm, savour a fireside chat or receive a letter from a friend—don’t simply “remember my favourite things”—delight in the gift that the Gift Giver has given you, and give Him thanks.
 Ecclesiastes very much speaks wisdom to everyone, and in His common grace, God gives unbelievers tender mercies too, however, central to accessing the wisdom Ecclesiastes’ offer is “the fear of the Lord” and hence why I have the believer in view here.
 Ecclesiastes actually sees God as the ultimate author of even our hardships. See Eccl 7:13 and 14. Rather than feeling like life (and God) are less than our troubles, when we see He has ordained them, we rest in a trust in Him and thus are freed to submit to His good purposes in them.
In lieu of a 5MM on July 25, because of a longer sermon, it is being posted here.
This week’s PC 5MM is Hospitality.
Φιλόξενος in the Greek (φιλό/ξενος- to love strangers)
Oxford defines the word as, “The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors and strangers.”
Once it was seen as a common place duty amongst the ancients. Today hedonistic individualism and isolationism has almost driven it out of our vocabulary.
Yet for the Christian, this is what we are commanded:
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Pet 4:9, c.f. 1 Ti 3:2; Tit 1:8)
We might not all have the gift of hospitality but we can be hospitable and this demonstrates our love (as we entertain angels unawares), changing someone’s flat tire, helping someone cross the street, giving those who’ve lost their home in a fire use of your trailer. Hospitality is a powerful witness in deed of our faith, and an opportunity to verbally share our faith.
Hospitality isn’t just something we show to unbelievers, but amongst believers too.
I remember once in one of my churches, which met in a physically small space, one family who sat in the back pew never in twelve years having said hello to the family who sat in the front pew! This should not be! Talk to people at church, welcome newcomers—show hospitability. Invite people over for a meal, get together, do things together (like Jesus did)—fellowship! It builds trust, is edifying and enables us to accomplish our mission. If we can’t love our brother, how will we be ready and able to love our neighbour or stranger?
There are lonely people, even Christians, who need the love God has shown us, so pretty please, show hospitality!
Check out two recent sermons Pastor Chris preached at other churches:
July 11- A Faith that is Your Own, 2 Chr 24:2, 15-19
July 18- Elijah, Idolatry, Youth Gangs and the Bears, 2 Ki 2:23-25 [starts at 21:00]
I love the Lord’s Day (Sunday). In the midst of the busyness of life, it is an anchor in the storm, a gift from the Lord to pause for worship, rest and family. As a Christian it is at the centre of my week and schedule; that which everything else revolves around. On it we declare Christ in a unique way and benefit from all its blessings.
Summertime, vacations, etc, even business travel, can throw our weekly rythme off, but I’d encourage you to build the Lord’s Day into all of your travels, whether they be for pleasure or business. This is what I do. I hope in sharing these that they may help you spend a profitable Lord’s Day this summer, or any time.
If one has the inclination, the Lord’s Day will always be profitable, even when you’re away. So have a safe and happy summer, and don’t forget to pack Jesus when you go.
Paul says this in 1 Cor 2:1–5:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Corinth was known as a city that loved its rhetoric; the finesse, eloquence and polish of its public speakers. As a Greek city, it also loved philosophy and knowledge. Coming into town as a missionary Paul could have adopted such practices to have wooed the crowds, but he didn’t. Instead he preached rather plainly, or rather than what the world wanted to hear, he preached Christ crucified. Didn’t he shoot himself in the foot by this practice? Not at all, by speaking the truth plainly he allowed room for the Holy Spirit to move through his message in power so their faith didn’t rest on Paul but on the Lord.
Today, amongst liberal and evangelical preachers, there has long been a trend to be like the culture in preaching style: use lots of jokes, entertain, be a motivational speaker, conceal the hard truths like hell or sex, all to win over their audiences. Not a few disenchanted Christians have expressed their disgust with me over this trend. Now being winsome as a preacher is good; but to conform to the expectations of a culture is exhausting, and unless you’re a natural jokster, untrue to who you are. Most of all, however, it gets in the way of preaching the plain truth, expounding Scripture, telling people about Jesus. Ultimately it doesn't nourish souls with the truth. In preaching, the preacher must decrease so Christ might increase.
Related: A Painful Preacher of the Truth
*Apostasy, apostate(s), apostatizing
Apostasy, a turning away from or a departing, falling away, renunciation of the Faith (litt. to posit, to position yourself away from the Faith), is as old as the Fall (the greatest act of apostasy). At different times and for different reasons, the visibly faithful have departed from the Faith, whether that be in the time of Judges or under persecution in the early Church. On a mass scale, it could be argued, that the greatest apostasy in history has been the Christian West’s turning from Christ to other gods. On a more individual level, there are many who reject some nominal form of Christianity and so—lamentably—turn from Christ as well. Others depart so as to “freely” be greedy or lovers of pleasure. I would say that the number one reason why people apostatize today is because it is easier to go with the anti-Christian flow of culture than to stand in Christ against it. With the norms fast changing against Christian beliefs (the exclusive claims of Jesus, Hell, etc) and practices (marriage and gender and other high ethics), it is simply easier and more advantageous to capitulate than to remained steadfast to Faith. Covid has certainly accelerated the departure of those only nominally adhering to the Faith (T. Rainer estimates this, in America, to be as high as 20%).
Many Bible verses speak to this subject, though they tend to be neglected because we like to emphasis choice today and underplay accountability. Two stand out:
· And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. (Mt 24:10)
· if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us. (2 Ti 2:12)
Let’s be frank; apostasy is a grave sin. We sugar coat it by giving it names such as “de-conversion” but it remains non-other than to turn one’s back, to shut yourself off from the truth of the Creator and Redeemer, the giver of life.
Coming soon…answering tough and pastoral questions apostasy raises.
(We really do more than plod, but sometimes he can be difficult to understand)
Recently we’ve been reading through Paul’s first letter in the New Testament, Galatians. This book is a treasure, but Paul’s penetrating logic is not always straightforward to follow. Sometimes his meaning is easy (Gal 6:10), but sometimes it is more difficult (Gal 5:1). It might come as a consolation that even the apostle Peter recognized this:
…our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand… (2 Peter 1:15b–16a).
Yet, Peter affirms that such words are still “Scripture” (v. 16b): inspired, meaningful and for our good (2 Tim 3:16).
It might be asked then, why did God choose to inspire Paul to write some words that were difficult (though not impossible) to understand?
One answer is that it keeps us humble, dependent upon Him. It reminds us that spiritual truths are spiritually discerned. It reminds us of our need for the Teacher—the Holy Spirit—to guide us into all truth, both the easy and the difficult to understand.
So the next time you come across a difficult passage of Scripture, don’t fret! Instead, humble yourself and trust the Lord will open His Word to you.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal 1:10)
What a timely word for the Christian in these days.
This verse is a profound statement of Paul’s at the beginning of his letter to the Galatians. What was at stake was the pure Gospel (faith in Jesus) threatened by the false Gospel of the circumcision party (faith + circumcision). He, like Peter had been (Gal 2:11), was no doubt tempted to accommodate, tempted to seek to please these powerful forces, rather than stand for God, Christ and the truth of the Gospel. What was at stake was not only the spiritual wellbeing of the Galatians, but the assurance of his own allegiance to Christ. Essentially he says, “If your desire is to be a people pleaser, if you persevere in this, you aren’t, cannot be a Christian”— I would NOT be a servant of Christ. Why, because Christ is Lord of the Christian, He is the object of their affections, the sum of all their gain, the One we desire to please, the One who demands our complete allegiance, the One who directs our steps.
There are many other Bible verses that pick up on this:
The pressure to conform is great (Ro 12:2). The warning of its cost is strong. Let us not cease to seek to please God over and above people.
PRAYER: Lord, I’m too often concern with what others think. Forgive me for being a people pleaser and help me to live for Jesus today and every day. In His name, Amen.
For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. (James 3:2)
Ah James! He has so many challenging words to share about our speech and how it flows from our hearts. While it would be worthwhile to consider major subjects such as gossip or slander from the wisdom of James, today I want to contemplate a minor subject in our speech, ‘white-blasphemies’ (and blasphemy, the 3rd of the 10 Commandments, which is not simply limited to reducing God’s name to a swearword, but more about not reverencing His character). I bring up the subject of what I’m calling white-blasphemies because I was asked to do so. Some may think this goes too far or is not worth the effort, but I’ve long been convicted of the importance of wholesomeness of speech and purity of heart in these—admittedly—minor areas.
Consider a whole host of common phrases we use in ordinary [even Christian] English and what they are actually short hand for (hence white-blasphemies):
The list could go on…
When one pauses to consider what the white-blasphemy is actually veiling, it is disconcerting to see what we’re indirectly saying, even if when we use them there is no mal-intent. Good intent doesn’t mean something we say is right. This also raises the question why we even speak white-blasphemies in the first place.
Consider a common swear word, B***h. This is not a bad word in itself, it is the name for a female dog that breeders and farmers with sheep, etc, use all of the time. This word became a swear word when used in anger and frustration at one’s dog and then applied to women and beyond. When we use language inappropriately or negatively we reveal something much more serious than the words themselves, the inward disposition of our hearts.
Jesus said, “21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander [literally blasphemy], pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mk 7:21–23).
When we, in our hearts, are angry, frustrated, and anxious or, more positively, surprised or over-joyed we can say things to underscore or express our emotions. This can lead us to utter white-blasphemies. I think Christians could certainly find more appropriate words/phrases, and the subject, while minor, raises the deeper call to evaluate and guard our hearts (Pr 4:23). What is going on in our hearts when we feel compelled to make positive or negative uses of these white-blasphemies? Scripture tells us that watching our speech is a sign that we’re controlling our hearts, and control over our hearts is a sign that the Holy Spirit is producing fruit in our lives. The presence of the Holy Spirit shows that we are saved and know Jesus. May the Lord continue to sanctify our hearts and make our speech savoury—even in white-blasphemies—and may our wholesome speech bring glory to Him.
Check out a whole number of Bible verses on the subject of speech here.
I sent this open letter to the CPSO. For more information about Bill C-7 (Euthanasia) and to learn what you can do visit: Canadians for Conscience | The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience
Dear College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO),
I wanted to respectfully add my voice to your consultation regarding Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID), specifically the matter of forcing medical professionals to make arrangements or be complicit in euthanasia/medically assisted suicide should such participation be against said professionals conscience or religious conviction (My arguments are limited to this and do not extend into the realm of what I consider to be the immoral nature of the subject generally).
I make this recommendation on a fourfold argument:
Rev. Dr. Chris W. Crocker (Markdale Baptist Church; Professor- Toronto Baptist Seminary)
Author: Chris Crocker
Pastor, historian and beekeeper.